UN urged to act on organized crime in global fishing industry

Today at the global UN Crime Congress in Doha, Qatar, The Black Fish has called on policy makers to urgently act on organized crime in the global fishing industry. Presenting a new report, commissioned by The Black Fish, in partnership with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, strong evidence was put forward that many types of illegal fishing, previously considered only a regulatory issue, in reality constitute a dangerous form of transnational organized crime.

Fishermen load tuna in Dakar, Senegal, bound for the European market. Image by Kukka Ranta

Illegal practices employed in the fishing industry can be considered forms of transnational crime and are increasingly associated with other criminal, violent and destructive practices. Illegal fishing is known to be connected to human trafficking, slave labour and drug smuggling.

Dr. Teale N. Phelps Bondaroff, lead author of the report and researcher with The Black Fish: “Illegal fishers launch multi-vessel fleets on lengthy voyages to all the corners of the globe. They employ sophisticated and coordinated strategies to launder money and fish, and evade taxes. Along the way they enable their activities through the violation of labour and environmental standards, corruption, bribery, violence and murder.”


The report calls on governments and international policy organisations to strengthen global regulations and create new domestic legislation to tackle organized fishing crime. Dramatic increases in punishments of offenders and significant enhancement of monitoring and enforcement are additional recommendations.

Dr. Teale N. Phelps Bondaroff: “Rather than fishers accidentally violating some regulations, we see systematic and highly coordinated efforts around the globe to violate fishing laws and regulations, putting the stability of marine ecosystems in serious jeopardy. Illegal fishing has become the new, lucrative type of transnational organized crime.”

More than 90% of the world’s fisheries are currently fully or over-exploited. Urgent and multilateral action is to be initiated to halt the growing multi-billion dollar illegal fish market.

The full report is available for download here

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